Mystery flash fiction
‘The Right Way’ by Stewart Storrar
“As your father it was my job to protect you from the world. Now, I realise, it is my job to protect the world from you. I’m sorry,” the words choked me as I spoke them. The sentence hung in the air for a moment followed by a suspense I had never before known. The words seemed to echo on for an eternity in my mind as I stood there frozen to the spot, a pistol in my grip.
He wasn’t facing me when I spoke. He was turned away from me with his tall, muscular body overshadowing a woman lying on the ground frightened and beaten. His short, brown, cropped hair was prickly and dark from the rain that had laden it. His skin was gleaming in the crimson dusk of the dying daylight and his fists were clenched into small hammer-heads. In one of these fists he held a sharp, rugged knife about six or seven inches long; it too gleaming in the light from the rain drops fresh on its tip. The woman looked to me with her green eyes wide in fear, her mouth gagged to minimise any sound she could’ve made. He just stood there.
“Put the knife down,” I heard my voice blurt. The words fell upon deaf ears as my son turned to face me in the twilight of the encroaching darkness. He still held the knife firmly in his grip as his eyes fell upon me, his face shrouded in a strange gloom from the low light environment. His neat, royal blue suit was drenched in rain with spots of blood visible on his white shirt. Was this really him?
As he stood before me all my mind would permit me; ‘Was this really my boy?’
What happened to the sweet innocent child I used to take for long walks on the farm? What happened to the inquisitive child I used to take fishing almost every week? What happened to my boy? Where had I failed? What had turned him into such a monster? As I looked on at my child all I could see was anger, hate, and resentment; a man that seemed to know nothing but pain, fear, and angst. All I could think about was why?
“What are you doing here?” he finally spoke.
“Drop that knife,” I repeated. My reply didn’t get the response I had hoped for. What he did next confused me but affirmed that who this person had become was not who I raised my boy to be.
It was a shrill, cold smile of malevolence. Not one of joy, or happiness, or forgiveness, it was a smile of sadistic pleasure.
“We both know that isn’t going to happen, dad.” The words were spat at me,
“So what are you going to do? What is the plan here?” He seemed content that I had asked him the question,
“I really should be asking you that,” he chuckled lightly, “You gonna’ use that or just wave it about?” He nodded to the gun held in my grasp. I glanced to the gun briefly, its black metallic barrel almost hidden against the murk of blacks and browns that made the alley. He then turned his back on me.
He stepped past the woman lying incapacitated on the ground. Grabbing her hair, he wrenched her head back and gently placed the edge of the knife along her windpipe. I re-positioned, nervously fumbling with the pistol in my hands,
“Don’t!” I found myself roaring. My anger was met by nothing but a laugh,
“Or what old man?” I felt my blood begin to boil as he continued speaking, “You are nothing. A nobody. All you ever were to me was someone standing in my way. You are worthless,” the words pierced my soul,
“Why? Just tell me, why? What did I do? I love you.” His smile crumpled into a frown as the woman gave a slight whimper of terror.
“The only thing you ever loved was yourself. I was just something to occupy your whims when it suited you.” I was shocked,
“What do you mean? I love you son!”
“We both know that isn’t true. Now leave old man, I have plans tonight. You’ll get your turn after her.” His sentence brought me back into the reality of the situation. As he tensed his fist and the knife began to dig deeper into the woman’s throat I squeezed the trigger.
The shot echoed through the neighbouring streets. The black barrel of the pistol smouldered. The woman screamed out of panic and my son stumbled backwards with an unsteady step. I watched as the knife fall from his hand and clatter against the concrete of the alley floor. He let both of his hands reach up to feel at the gaping wound found in the centre of his chest, and then he turned round to me with watering eyes. He opened his mouth to speak but all that came out was a dribble of blood before he tumbled backwards slamming into the grimy puddles of the back alley.
As I stood there and looked on at my son I didn’t see him dying, all I could see was the little boy I once played catch with. All I could see was the little boy that I had read to every night. All I could wonder was what went wrong. I dropped the gun. It clattered to the ground as I ran to his side. I knelt down beside him, a shocked expression captured on his face,
“Dad?” I gave a slight nod,
“I am here son. Is it you?”
“What happened? I can’t feel my,” he coughed and blood spurted from his mouth. He very quickly came to realise what had happened as he looked up at my tearing eyes, “He came back?” All I could muster was a nod.
The woman looked on at us with a confused expression on her face.
“Dad, I’m sorry.”
“It wasn’t you son,” I couldn’t contain the pain I felt, “it wasn’t you.”
“I can’t control it, I tried. I really tried,” he spoke, each word stealing away more life and strength.
“Just hold on, we can get you help.”
“I love-” I felt his body go limp. I lay there for a moment in silence. I didn’t know it had gotten this bad. All I wanted to do was help my boy but as I sat there with him in my arms, only tears streamed from my eyes. I don’t know what I did wrong. I don’t know how I could have helped him. It was with these thoughts, and the movement of my hand towards his blade, that I knew this was the right way.
Even if the right way felt wrong.
About This Mystery Flash Fiction
This mystery flash fiction was brought to you by Scottish writer Stewart Storrar. Stewart is a writer from Glasgow, Scotland and Chief Editor of Lore Publication. His goal is to tell stories that will stay with people for a lifetime and Lore Publication was born from this idea!